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264          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

XL INFLUENCE OF WESTERN LITERATURE

When two cultures meet, it is natural and logical that the
richer one should give and the other should take. It is true
but it is sometimes hard to believe that it is more blessed to
give than to take. China has apparently gained much in the
last thirty years in literature and thought which must be en-
tirely credited to Western influence. This acknowledgement
of the general superiority of Western literature in richness came
as something of a bad shock to the self-styled "literary nation"
that is China. Some fifty years ago the Chinese were impressed
only by European gun-boats; some thirty years ago they were
impressed by the Western political system; about twenty years
ago they discovered that the West even had a very good litera-
ture, and now some people are making the slow discovery that
the West has even a better social consciousness and better
social manners.

That is a rather large morsel for an old and proud nation to
swallow, but perhaps China is big enough to swallow it.
Anyway, in literature the change has come. Chinese literature
has undergone a more profound change in style and content
than it ever went through in the past two thousand years.
Directly due to the foreign influence, the spoken language has
come into its own as a literary medium: the emancipation of
the language has come from a man imbued with the Western
spirit. Its vocabulary has been greatly enriched, which means
the increase of new concepts, scientific, philosophical, artistic
and literary, generally more exact and more well-defined than
the old material of our thinking. With this enrichment of the
raw material of our thought has come a change in style, which
has been so modernized beyond recognition that old scholars
find great difficulty in following the new pattern and would be
at a complete loss to write a magazine article that could be
accepted regarding either style or content.   New forms of
literature, like the vers libre, poems in prose, the short story and
the modern drama have come into being, and the technique of
writing novels has been greatly modified.  Above all, the old
standards of criticism, on the whole rather similar to those of